I wish I could give this book ten stars, but even then it still wouldn t do it justice This is such an important book that applies to all women and girls, whether or not we have been assaulted The need to apologize, to think about others first before ourselves, to downplay violent crime, and to continue to contact rapists after they have violated trust in the most inhumane way she includes all of the ways girls and women have been conditioned to be nice. I finished Things We Didn t Talk About When I Was A Girl, a memoir about sexual assault rape where the author contacts and interviews her former friend who assaulted her 14 years prior It s a powerful story of friendship, betrayal, gender, sexual assault, forgiveness but mostly about the performance of gender for good and ill Mark is not redeemed but also not demonized Essential reading It will be read and discussed mostly by women but should also be read by boys men. Jeannie Vanasco Has Had The Same Nightmare Since She Was A Teenager She Startles Awake, Saying His Name It Is Always About Him One Of Her Closest High School Friends, A Boy Named Mark A Boy Who Raped HerWhen Her Nightmares Worsen, Jeannie Decides After Fourteen Years Of Silence To Reach Out To Mark He Agrees To Talk On The Record And Meet In Person It S The Least I Can Do, He SaysJeannie Details Her Friendship With Mark Before And After The Assault, Asking The Brave And Urgent Question Is It Possible For A Good Person To Commit A Terrible Act Jeannie Interviews Mark, Exploring How Rape Has Impacted His Life As Well As Her Own She Examines The Language Surrounding Sexual Assault And Pushes Against Its Confines, Contributing To And Deepening The MeToo DiscussionExacting And Courageous, Things We Didn T Talk About When I Was A Girl Is Part Memoir, Part True Crime Record, And Part Testament To The Strength Of Female Friendships A Recounting And Reckoning That Will Inspire Us To Ask Harder Questions And Interrogate Our Biases Jeannie Vanasco Examines And Dismantles Long Held Myths Of Victimhood, Discovering Grace And Power In This Genre Bending Investigation Into The Trauma Of Sexual Violence 5 big huge giant stars for this memoir I ve not read anything like this before I loved her style, transparency, honesty, and heartfelt true emotion in this Transcribing conversations with her perpetrator was smart, but then analyzing her own behavior in each interaction after transcription was genius If you or anybody you know has experienced sexual assault or a confusing sexual encounter with anybody in your life, this book will shed some light It did for me. Update I decided to change this to two stars from one It deserves at least an additional star for the act of doing this at all, what it took emotionally to be able to write anything down, let alone interviewing and seeing her rapist, someone who was a good friend and betrayed that relationship.First brave topic and approach However, the execution is flawed Most obvious nothing in this book implies a list of things that weren t taught to the author as a girl Nothing was mentioned in any way, so the title justdoesn t make any sense My biggest problem is that it s basically the story of her process interviewing the friend that assaulted her and putting it into a book, not the book itself It feels like a long, drawn out, repetitive QA with herself She transcribes the conversations with him, so it becomes a QA with him There seems to be no point, no lesson, no insight at all The guy feels terrible, guilty, and feels he owes it to her to talk to her for this bookbut it s like you never get to the point Several times in the book I had to flip back to make sure I hadn t misplaced my bookmark because I d already heard the same things, chapter after chapter I appreciate what I think she was trying to do which I think is prove how any guy, even the nice guys, can do something awful But it doesn t ever quite get there because the sample set is just Mark , it s just again the process of talking through WANTING to make this point and wanting to write a book that achieves that, but not getting down to it The author wants this to reach an audience, but to what end I hope it helped her work through some things, but it just reads like someone talking about the book they re GOING to write, an author s work product, but not the book itself. Things We Didn t Talk about When I was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco details her sexual assault victimization and the aftermath The memoir is quite insightful and provides many interesting observations when it comes to victims, society and those that do wrong Fourteen years after a sexual assault incident, Jeannie Vanasco reestablishes contact with the perpetrator and details her life before, during and after the incident Along the way, Jeannie Vanasco insightfully discusses the subject of sexual assault from problematic definitions, stigmatization, and how issues both follow and haunt the victim, oftentimes at the hands of the perpetrator In the memoir, one effective thing Jeannie Vanasco does that increases the impact of the content of her memoir is to definitively explain the event as it occurred and that what happened is not in dispute by either her or her perpetrator This allows the reader to react strongly to Jeannie Vanasco s writing without the encumbrance of being concerned with conflicting memories and interpretations of both of those involved Jeannie Vanasco s writing is open, powerfully honest, and quite revealing, which adds to the importance of her memoir. TW rape and sexual assault Due to the nature of this book, I don t want to write anything negative about the subject matter I feel, it was a different and unique way to write life events The only thing I struggled with was the length of the book. Wowza I ve never read anything like Things We Didn t Talk About When I Was a Girl before It s a fascinating look into the mind of a nice guy who rapes a friend, how that particular kind of betrayal is processed by both the victim and the perpetrator, and the complications of writing about it It s so rare to get the perspective of the perpetrator, and the result here is stunning I was especially moved by Vanasco s wrestling with whether or not to describe what happened to her as rape that entire thread is devastatingly relatable I m so happy and grateful that this book was published. Oof I suspected this would be great but it packs of a punch than I even expected Vanasco, a woman in her early 30s and teacher of memoir writing at a university, decides to get back in touch with her rapist, a guy she was close friends with as a teenager until he assaulted her at a party when she was 19 The book then chronicles the process of getting back in touch with this guy Mark , first through a series of phone calls and how the process of revisiting the rape and her friendship with him while also trying to write about it impacts upon her, building up to when she decides to travel to meet him and interview him face to face.Jeannie decides to record the phone calls, allowing for a level of self analysis reflection as well as being able to go over and really think about what Mark says during these conversations She quickly realises that she is trying to reassure and comfort Mark through the language she uses to make sure she isn t making him feel uncomfortable The level of introspection is, I guess, expected from someone who teaches memoir writing, but I found it added so much to the narrative Why do some women find it so hard to put their own feelings above those of almost invariably men around them Jeannie also discusses the writing process with a number of writer friends throughout the period spanning her conversations with Mark, helping her to further pick apart and analyse her own reaction to events, as well as how Mark responds to her getting back in touch I found this impossible to put down and a thought provoking read on a number of levels.Highly recommended Thank you Netgalley and Prelude Books for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review. I doubt I m the only woman sexually assaulted by a friend and confused about her feelings Wow This is one powerful read.Heavy content warnings for rape and sexual assault.15 years ago, Jeannie Vanasco was raped by a close friend In this memoir, she explores how that incident affected her then, affects her now, and in a move that makes this book not only unique but a necessary read talks to her rapist about his view on the assault.Despite being written in a simple style that s easy to follow, it s taken a week for me to get through this because the heavy subject matter was mentally exhausting at times It reads like a stream of consciousness at times it is messy but that only makes it feel real Throughout the writing, Vanasco is exploring her feelings and coming to new ones, and the fact that she is constantly battling between what she, as a Good Feminist, should be feeling versus what she is actually feeling makes it a very interesting and relatable read The fact that the book is written in a kind of real time the author describes writing the memoir while doing so makes it feel very much like reading a diary It s a very intimate feeling to read this book, but never feels intrusive The prevalence of sexual assault is felt heavily throughout the book This was not the author s only experience of this, and she talks candidly about other times she s been violated She also talks about the depressing number of her students who have had similar experiences, as well as friends of hers Many books exist about rape and sexual assault, but the nuance that this one offers by bringing the assailant s voice is brought to the table makes it a standout in a world of MeToo and other movements that have made the topic an important talking point While this, as Vanasco herself acknowledges several times throughout the book, may be a red flag for many women, I d encourage people to go in with an open mind The perpetrator doesn t get an easy ride in this, and there s never a point where he s portrayed as either a someone without blame.It s interesting to see both Jeannie and Mark not his real name process their feelings about that one night, 15 years laterThis story isn t original, and that s the story Sexual assault happens all the time What makes this story sort of unusual is we re having the conversation I don t think that happens very often 4.5 stars.
Jeannie Vanasco is the author of the memoirs Things We Didn t Talk About When I Was a Girl Tin House Books, October 2019 and The Glass Eye Tin House Books, October 2017 Her writing has appeared in The Believer, NewYorker.com, The New York Times Modern Love section, the Times Literary Supplement, Tin House, and elsewhere Born and raised in Sandusky, Ohio, she now lives in Balti and teache
- 360 pages
- Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl
- Jeannie Vanasco
- 27 September 2017 Jeannie Vanasco